So – what is this all about?
For those who remember last year’s Peckham Finishing School for Girls, the BBC3 show is back and has relocated to Newcastle.
Watch as four “affluent” (read: loaded) Southerners meet and live with four “unprivileged” (read: poor) Northerners on an estate in Tyneside to learn some big fat life lessons, Toon-style.
The girls are sent to Byker in Newcastle where, since Ant ‘n’ Dec rolled out, unemployment is almost three times the national average and more than half of its children are classed as living in poverty.
So it’s basically Made in Chelsea meets Geordie Shore?
Kind of. Geordie Finishing School for Girls has an easy-to-follow recipe: take the best bits of Ladette to Lady and Geordie Shore, stir well and season with Jeremy Kyle.
Like any good reality TV format, it claims to be a “social experiment” teaching “harsh life lessons”, but boiled down makes good TV because everyone loves watching poor people forced to mix with rich people. There really is nothing like televisual class warfare, just hark back to early episodes of Wife Swap.
Ideals, morals, political leanings, not to mention grooming habits collide in this holistic look at the “social spectrum”. Plus this time we really are in for a treat, in that North meets South, and we all know how much they pretend not to hate each other. And no need to feel voyeuristic – it’s all under the handy guise of “real life, man” and in no way panders to regional stereotypes.
OK, but what happens each week?
After declaring their credit cards and fur gilets at the M4 toll, the girls have to do all sorts of “working-class things”: pick up Jobseeker’s Allowance, eat from chippies and home dye their hair. OK, so that last one might not be true. But they do take them to watch football, and not in a box.
They are also given genuine elocution lessons in “how to speak Geordie” to help them survive their stay in the North. Here they presumably learn crucial expressions such as “Ahm clammin!”, which roughly translates as “I’m ravenous, do we have any blinis to go with this caviar?”.
Of course, the “experiment” turns out to be “harder than any of the girls could ever have imagined” so expect buckets of tears, crushing realisations, unlikely friendships and raw, steaming emotion as the posh ones learn some tough “home truths”.
So, lots of shouting, crying and screaming then?
Sadly, it seems most of these ritzy chicks are all too aware of coming across – as we would have hoped – as spoilt brats who sponge off their mummies and daddies, so carefully stage-manage their reactions.
For example, posh girl Steph describes the poverty-stricken estate as “absolutely charming” and local hooded yoofs as “really friendly and…” wait for it…“absolutely gorgeous”. It may not come as a surprise to hear Steph hopes to work in the civil service and studies politics at university.
However, credit to the producers, who do their very utmost to counteract this “Miliband-effect” by doing their darnedest to weaken these pesky morals via “entertaining” situations.
One example of this could be plying the ladies with alcohol and sending them all off in the direction of Byker’s finest alehouse, the Nag’s Head, a destination sure to crack their moral compasses. However, before any stark realities can be absorbed, all hell breaks loose when it transpires the bar, despite a plethora of Brown Ale, doesn’t stock any Dom…
Right, sounds like I definitely need to set the Sky+! When is it on again?
Geordie Finishing School for Girls is on Tuesdays at 9pm on BBC3.